Hold the Sunset: I'm holding...

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Hold the Sunset: I'm holding...

February 20, 2018 - 14:37
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The first episode of Hold the Sunset has been aired and, looking at a few comments on Twitter, it seems quite a few viewers are very disappointed with what they’d hoped would be an amazing triumph for comedy legend, John Cleese.

Hold The Sunset

By Anna May @AnnaMayMight

The first episode of Hold the Sunset has been aired and, looking at a few comments on Twitter, it seems quite a few viewers are very disappointed with what they’d hoped would be an amazing triumph for comedy legend, John Cleese.

Alison Steadman and John Cleese play childhood sweethearts, Edith and Phil, who finally decide to marry each other, having each lost their lifelong partners years ago. Sounds too good to be true. However, a knock at the door immediately after brings Roger, Edith’s 50 year old son, into the mix. Played by Jason Watkins, Roger barges in to announce he’s left his wife, Wendy, and has “especially left” his two children.

Wendy, played by Julia Cavaliero, turns up after a while to try to discuss the break up, but Roger’s already decided to move back in with mummy and proceeds to behave like the spoilt little boy we can only assume he’s always been. Sounds amusing, doesn’t it…and it really should be, shouldn’t it?

Yes, it really should be. The idea of a grown man returning home after 30 years, or so, to demand his childhood back is definitely a great basis for a sitcom…but…it seems to draw on a few comedies a lot of us were laughing at a LOT of years ago…and it shouldn’t have to.

I feel a definite Ever Decreasing Circles vibe…especially after Phil’s encounter with Mr Dugdale, an irritating local resident, played by none other than Peter Egan, who made an excellent job of portraying Martin’s annoyingly perfect neighbour all those years ago. That vibe quickly turns into fond memories of Terry and June and Sorry, among others…so, inevitably, I’m comparing and hating myself for it!

I also find Phil and Edith pretty similar to Cathy and Michael in Mum. Remember how they would just respond to the madness around them with ahhs, I sees and okays, whilst also trying to find happiness together somehow?

This is all fine. After all, if you want to create an easy to watch sitcom that can amuse any age group, there’s no better comedy to draw on than what has already worked…right?

Maybe…but, so far, I’m not sure the script leaves enough space for the actors to actually act. By ‘space’ I mean nothing, silence, room to breathe. I tried to work out why I was finding it difficult to enjoy the jokes and the mayhem that was happening in front of me…and I, personally, think it’s because I’m watching the characters fill up every possible second with the script. So much so, I don’t feel I’m afforded any time at all to feel awkward, embarrassed, or even angry on behalf of any of the characters.

I believe John Cleese has said he doesn’t feel under any pressure, because he didn’t write the script. That said, I think if he had written it, we’d be given a lot more time to wait for and observe reactions. My favourite comedies have always kept me glued to the screen to see what people are doing. Here, I’m treated to so much description and explanation in the dialogue, I can look away and not feel I’ve missed a single thing. Unfortunately, I probably have...but most of those visual details will have been lost on me because I simply didn’t need them.

Let me tell you, as soon as Tom and Jerry started talking, I was out of there!

Again, as with Mum, I may find the series fills up quite nicely with fresh characters that will help lubricate, if you will, the interactions between the characters we’ve met so far. (Don’t be smutty, geez!)

Yes, I know, Roger is pathetic and when he gets stuck in the window it’s just too much…but I think we’ve been well and truly primed for a lot more over-the-top behaviour to come. I can handle it. I can, I can, I can…and I will watch the whole series.

Yes, I will…and not just because I’m a fan of the actors…but because, after Phil tries his best to lighten the conversation about his wish to marry Edith, he tells her, “I can’t do this anymore,” and the look he gives her…well…it shows a depth and sadness he seems determined to hide…but I saw it…and it got me. More moments like that will suck me in even further. (Oh stop!)

I think anyone who has decided to give Hold the Sunset a miss after reading negative comments should, at least, watch the first couple of episodes. It’s very silly at the moment, but has the potential to become very funny...and, now we’ve met the main characters and the plot is set, the story will become more and more interesting as the series progresses. YES IT WILL!